Sunday, April 15, 2012

Did I really mean everything?

When I was 7 I gave my life to Jesus.  When I was 16 I gave him total control. 

Many are asking, what does that really mean and why I would you want someone or something to have control of your life?  My answer is simple.  Because if I hadn't and I didn't, I would be swallowed up in this very situation I find myself in today.  Who wouldn't grieve and scream and be mad and unconsolable that their son of 20 was snatched out of this world and removed forever? 

Mark 8:35 says, If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it." 

My life would be sinking right now if I hadn't given it up all those years ago, if I hadn't chosen death of my "self" and life in Jesus.  These are the days when I am clinging to the Cross. Clinging through the storm because I cannot do this on my own. 

There is still sadness that I will never hear Ryan come through the door and smell him and his "essential oils" before I see him.  There is still sadness that I will never see his smile light up the room.  There is still sadness that I will never have to say, "Really Ryan?"  There is still sadness that I will never receive another of his larger than life hugs.  But that sadness will not overcome me because there is hope and confidence trailing right behind the sadness, waiting to swallow it up.

Last night I was singing a worship song in church about "giving Him everything". It dawned on me that I have said those words and sang those songs for many, many years now. I have had three major times in my life when I have had to decide whether I really meant them.  Each time has increased with its' intensity.  The first was in regards to a school for Ryan that seemed so perfect and was shut down only days before it was to start.  It seems so trivial now, but at the time it was a huge release to the Lord of trusting His plan.  The second was when my husband had a stroke at 48.  Out of the blue...he was totally healthy...and I found myself in the emergency room with my husband who was paralyzed on one half of his body.  I remember crying out to the Lord and saying, "Lord, I don't know if I can do this!"  At that very moment I felt His spirit wash over me and say, "For I know the plans I have for you Gail, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11  Tom is totally recovered from that stroke but we have learned MUCH through the trials that followed.  Now I find myself in the most intense situation of trusting those words of commitment and "giving it all".  Did I mean my son's life?  Did I really mean everything?

As we finished up worship last night I realized I WAS able to say that I did mean everything.  I was able to do it in that moment and I will purpose to do it in every other moment.  Because in trusting Him with everything, I receive life. Through Jesus' strength and wisdom Tom and I have modeled and lived out that trust to our children.  And because we have done that my son is walking with Jesus at this very moment.  Think what this day would mean if we hadn't.  Think what this day would mean if Ryan hadn't received a life in Jesus. Now THAT would be something to mourn.

My niece Libby said it so eloquently at the funeral, Death = Life. (Romans 6) Because I chose death to myself and my own sin-separating, self-centered path I can walk in the fullness of a life with Jesus even though physical death surrounds me.  Because Ryan chose death years ago, he walked fearlessly and with a solid hope in his future.  Hope in Jesus and life with Him.  And now for him he is experiencing 2 Corintians 5:1 "For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands."

I feel compelled to bring it hard this morning to other believers in Christ and ask, "Do you really mean it?"  Will you allow brokenness to consume you when you are called to really give Him everything?  I pray not.  Because that is a dishonor to the strength that He has to offer and speaks to how much we have really given Him.

To those who have never given their life to Jesus and still insist that your control is working for you, I would ask that you take a good look at your life.  Does death have sting for you?  Does the idea of dieing frighten you fiercely?  It should, but it doesn't have to.  Allow God to remove the sting of death and encompass you with Life ETERNAL! 

John 3:16  "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

If death still has a sting and you live local, please come to Woodmen Valley Chapel today and hear about how it doesn't have to grip you in fear any longer.  Services are at 9, 11:15 and 6 pm tonight.    If you do not live locally and don't know where to go, find a Bible and start Reading John Chapter 3, then Romans 6, then Matthew 5....and on.  His words will not return void in your life.  Choosing to maintain your own control, and create your own path....THAT is what will return void.

I love you all and are praying for your hearts to hear these words this morning.

Still moving forward


  1. Dear Gail ~
    I am a sister in Christ and a dear friend of your sister, Heidi. I am so very sorry for your loss yet rejoice with you that Ryan is seeing Jesus face-to-face! Words cannot possibly describe how your posts on your blog have touched my heart and drawn me closer to our Lord and Savior! Thank you for your transparency throughout this journey! I lovingly encourage you to let your readers know how we can be praying for you!

    Love you, Gail!
    Katie (Zimmerman)

  2. Gail,

    I don't know you at all but I have seen your story through friends of friends. First, let me say that I realize that no words can fill the hole you have in your heart but I'm sorry for your loss.
    Over the past couple of years, my faith has changed - there were times when I thought I had lost it altogether.
    While my circumstances were very different from yours (my own sin created my problem), the challenge to my core beliefs were very real.
    I am still very much in the middle of my overall journey but I am coming to realize that it is through great challenge that our faith is distilled - purified if you will. Until we have to walk in the depths of forgiveness, we don't fully understand forgiveness. Until we have experienced grace, we don't fully understand grace. Until we suffer great loss, we can't know the depth of God's love in volunteering His son on our behalf.
    You have a connection to God through this experience like many do not. You both lost a son. I pray that as you continue to process through your pain, your loss, and your anger that you will develop an even deeper faith and more divine compassion and a capacity to connect with God that would not have been possible in any other scenario.
    There is no human logic to explain or understand such tragedies but there is grace and relationship and I pray that His grace would flood your heart and that it would flow through you to those He wants you to touch having gone through this.

    Peace and love,

  3. Gail,
    Your words of pain, honesty, faith, trust, hope.......are blessing all of us who are reading your blog. None of us know what tomorrow holds, but sharing your story....Ryan's story....shows how God's grace is always sufficient, no matter how deep the valley we must cross, no matter how deep the pain. Thank you. We will continue to pray for you and your family as God leads you forward one day, on step at a time.

    In His love,

  4. Gail, I love how you turn everything around to Jesus; what a clear view of life you are seeing through your tears! Today in church we sang Blessed Be Your Name, and I thought of you and your family the whole time. And I love how you are able to choose joy, our Father's joy that runs deep in each one of us... "the joy of the Lord IS our strength." We continue to lift you up in prayer and love you all. Sandie Davis

  5. Just to clarify: Not Matthew, but 2 Corinthians 5:1. read v. 5 too!

  6. Hi again Gail.I've said it before,but want to say it again.God continues to move in the lives of so many,through your obedience to surrendering your life to Christ,and Ryan's surrender.I pray that the Lord will show me something, that needs to be revealed. Sometimes,I'm not sure if I'm surrendering everything.Thank you for your strength,your boldness,and willingness to be transparent.We continue to pray for comfort from the Holy Spirit,and strength.Proud of you.

  7. I agree with Sandy, REAL clarity!!! Thank you SO much for sharing all of this with us Gail!

  8. Gail,
    I've received updates from Jorie and of course through your writings here. My heart grieves with you and Tom and Luke in your loss. At the same time your strength and witness is such a joy and inspiration. I'm sorry I missed the funeral as I'm on the east coast this week. Thank you for sharing your heart and what God is doing for you. We definitely want to get Luke and Zack together when things calm down for you. Know that our prayers are with you.
    - Steve Roth

  9. Thank you for this challenge Gail. Your words,
    "I feel compelled to bring it hard this morning to other believers in Christ and ask, "Do you really mean it?" Will you allow brokenness to consume you when you are called to really give Him everything? I pray not. Because that is a dishonor to the strength that He has to offer and speaks to how much we have really given Him.",have really touched my heart today. The Lord is speaking through you in amazing ways. You are a vessel to bring healing and hope to others who are suffering...including myself.